"Excellent Creepy Kid Horror"
The latest film from talented director Nicholas McCarthy (THE PACT and AT THE DEVIL'S DOOR aka HOME) gets a UK DVD and digital download release after its brief theatrical run earlier this year.
A girl runs screaming from a house. Her right hand has been severed. The police close in on the man who did it and shoot him dead just as Sarah (Taylor Schilling) gives birth to baby boy Miles.
As Miles starts to grow, Sarah and her husband John (Peter Mooney) start noticing that he's a little different to other children. He's uncommonly bright, has an extensive vocabulary, and mutters words in a strange language in his sleep.
By the time he's eight and played by Jackson Robert Scott it's obvious that Miles isn't a normal little boy at all and it's all to do with that police shooting we saw at the start of the film. Exactly what is going on and why I'll leave you to discover, because it all leads to some extremely well executed scary stuff .
With THE PRODIGY, Nicholas McCarthy continues to explore the kind of themes he introduced us to in THE PACT, but whereas in that latter film the question being asked was 'Could someone be hiding in your house?', this time the question is 'Could someone be hiding in your child?'. Some truly unnerving scares, coupled with McCarthy's enviable ability to make the most unassuming of middle class houses seem almost unbearably creepy, suggests he might just be the closest thing twenty first century horror cinema has to Wes Craven, whose earlier movies very much tackled themes of horror assaulting the assumed security of middle class life.
Not that Craven is the only classic horror movie director to namecheck here. As in THE PACT there's a welcome Lucio Fulci feel - this time in an especially unpleasant scene in the basement - and fans of deliberate horror movie references should take a good look when a character reads a newspaper from Pittsburgh on her laptop.
Vertigo's release also contains three tiny featurettes made to publicise the film, but you do also get a director commentary track that's well worth a listen.
With THE PRODIGY Nicholas McCarthy continues to fulfil his early promise. It's scary, suspenseful, has decent performances from its leads, and the ending left me nodding with satisfaction. Very much worth a look.
Nicholas McCarthy's THE PRODIGY is out from Vertigo Releasing on digital download from 5th July 2019 and on DVD from 15t July 2019